VoIP is the easiest and most advanced way to enhance internal and external business communications. With Aircall as your dedicated VoIP provider, you can do so much more with your business phone system. Let’s explore exactly what VoIP is, and how you can get started using it to improve your business.
What Is VoIP?
The term VoIP is an acronym for Voice over Internet Protocol. You might also see it referred to as Voice over IP. In a nutshell, it’s a telecommunications technology that allows the transmission of voice signals across an IP-based network such as LAN, WAN, and even Wi-Fi.
VoIP works by taking analog voice signals from a regular handset, converting them into digital bits, and transmitting the digitized information as packets over a network.
To make and receive calls via VoIP, you must have a VoIP-enabled phone system or a softphone app installed on your computer or smartphone. These have built-in VoIP adaptors that convert analog voice waves into digital signals. The digital voice packets are then sent through the internet router to the VoIP phone provider, where servers route calls over the correct network to reach the intended recipients.
The technology and processes can seem complicated, so let’s explore VoIP solutions in a way that keeps things simple and relevant to your business.
Using a VoIP Provider Compared to Conventional Phone Systems
VoIP’s predecessor is the traditional PBX (Private Branch Exchange) phone system. Looking at the two side-by-side, VoIP technology is a massive leap from PBX.
PBX phones transmit via copper lines connected to a Public Switched Telephone Network (PTSN). The copper wiring carries a modulated analog voice signal in the form of electrical pulses. Unlike these older phone systems, VoIP transmits over ethernet connections and doesn’t rely on a physical switch to route calls or to transfer between callers.
A modern PBX version—IP-PBX—is the closest traditional phones can get to VoIP. And although IP-PBX uses VoIP technology to facilitate on-prem calls, it still lacks most of the capabilities of full-scale VoIP phone systems.
So what do you actually get with full VoIP telephony that other phone systems can’t match?
1. Lower Call Rates and More Savings
One of the main reasons businesses switch to VoIP phones is to cut communications costs. No matter how you look at it, running a VoIP system is much cheaper than using a landline phone system.
For one, the call rates are much lower. Most VoIP service providers bundle unlimited local calls and heavily discounted international minutes in VoIP subscriptions. For instance, while a PBX line might cost upward of $50, a VoIP subscription can start as low as $30 per month. And that’s not all. Keep in mind that you’ll have to pay standard call rates to your telecom provider when using a landline PBX phone.
Second, VoIP system installation and maintenance cost much less than wired alternatives. Business VoIP providers usually sell VoIP-enabled handsets at a discounted price. They also take care of the phone’s technical backend.
Finally, VoIP is so versatile that it can streamline your entire communications infrastructure, subsequently improving work and business efficiency. This realizes some indirect and valuable cost savings too. For instance, VoIP-powered teleconferencing allows remote colleagues to attend virtual meetings without having to incur travel expenses—which is particularly helpful in the era of hybrid work.
2. Completely Portable
VoIP technology allows you to make and receive calls from multiple devices. With VoIP, your business lines are no longer tied to office desk phones. In fact, you don’t need desk phones at all.
Through softphone apps, your smartphone, laptop, or tablet can easily place and answer VoIP calls. Another good thing about VoIP is that it’s not hindered by international borders. VoIP works from any part of the world, as long as there’s a stable internet connection. This means you can take your office on the go at any time without missing a beat.
VoIP’s portability doesn’t end there. Thanks to its advanced call forwarding and routing capabilities, incoming calls can still reach their recipients no matter where they are or which devices they’re using.
3. Better Scalability and Flexibility
Scalability is another strong point for VoIP providers. A growing business needs unified communications that are flexible enough to meet changing demands.
VoIP solutions offer easy scaling options, allowing you to increase or decrease the number of users and phone features at any time. Usually, this means switching between VoIP subscription and software packages, but you can also customize your own voice solution to match your business’s unique phone needs.
On the other hand, scaling a landline phone system would mean laying more copper wiring, upgrading the switching hardware, and getting all new handsets. Doing all this can be expensive, tedious, and time-consuming. More so if adding new lines or users ends in an overhaul of the entire system.
4. More Call Features
VoIP is not just your regular phone system. You get so much more with VoIP than conventional voice calls. VoIP’s versatility and multi-functional capabilities allow users to multitask communications using various tools simultaneously.
Suppose you’re returning a call. As you wait, you could read through a transcribed voicemail from your inbox to find out the reason for calling. At the same time, you could forward an important voicemail to any of your colleagues with just the click of a button or screen tap. You can even send SMS messages or integrate your VoIP solution with critical business communication software like CRM.
VoIP also comes with a host of automation features that you won’t find on other phone systems, such as advanced call transfer and forwarding, intelligent call answering, auto assistance, call monitoring and logging, hot desking, conference calling, and more.
VoIP gives you the convenience and scope that make for a robust unified communications system that covers all your needs.
5. Superior Voice Quality
VoIP is far superior to traditional phone technologies like landlines when it comes to connection speed and reception quality. The only way VoIP interacts with voice or video information is by turning it from analog to digital packets.
Some end-points may compress the data to save on internet bandwidth, but even that is done using lossless algorithms to preserve audiovisual quality. In contrast, most landline systems intentionally clip voice waveforms in order to minimize the transmission data load, resulting in muffled voices and distorted dial tones.
Additionally, since VoIP transmits across IP networks, it suffers little to no external noise interference. VoIP transmissions are also latency-free, meaning the calls never drop or get jittery. In the end, you get a crisp voice transfer and sharp HD images during video conferencing.
What Is a VoIP Service Provider, and What Is Their Role?
A VoIP provider is a company that sells products and services that enable businesses to make and receive calls over the internet.
Sophisticated algorithms and servers route incoming calls from the conventional cellular or landline networks to the internet to reach business phone lines when using VoIP. The same thing happens the other way around when making calls on a VoIP phone. The call has to leave the internal ethernet network to reach phones using other telecom networks. The VoIP host is responsible for providing the infrastructure for these processes.
Since VoIP is a lot more than just a voice call technology, VoIP providers also offer more robust communication solutions such as instant messaging and SMS, SIP support, emailing, and call management. Modern VoIP providers basically sell a complete business toolbox catering to all enterprise communications demands. On top of that, VoIP hosts also help organizations integrate existing software such as CRMs, cloud, help desk, and e-commerce platforms with VoIP services.
Given VoIP support has evolved to cover all aspects of business communications, an all-rounded VoIP provider essentially becomes a technical partner to your business.
What to Look for in VoIP Providers
There are many VoIP solution providers, so let’s explore how you can find the right one for your business.
Assess your needs
Choosing your VoIP system is likely to affect many stakeholders from IT to sales to marketing and beyond. Before you begin your search for the right system, ask those teams what they need from the eventual VoIP solution. Work with them to answer questions like:
- How often are phone calls being made and by which teams?
- Which use cases should your VoIP solution address?
- What customer journey steps take place via phone?
- Are there pain points teams experience with their existing phone services?
- What apps do you need your VoIP solution to integrate with?
This will help you all align on the goals of your new VoIP service.
Agree on your budget
It’s likely that moving away from a hardware system to a VoIP solution will save you money in the long term, however, it’s still important to understand the different fees that can come with VoIP services.
This is where assessing your needs up-front is helpful. If you know your team is making a lot of external international calls, you can focus on plans that offer value on that, rather than ones that prioritize domestic internal calls, for example.
However, remember that your decision is an investment in digital transformation and that your needs can change. Ensure your budget reflects that by leaving some flexibility to scale your VoIP service up or down once you’ve onboarded a provider.
Delve into customer case studies
Picking a VoIP provider requires more research than a quick glance at star ratings. After all, this is a critical business decision—not ordering takeout!
One of the best ways to understand how a VoIP service works is to learn about other organizations’ experiences. You might want to start by looking at stories and experiences shared by companies of a similar size or in the same industry as yours.
Consider available integrations
One of the biggest benefits of a VoIP system is that it can integrate with other key tools like your CRM, help desk, or collaboration software. Along with features available directly from the provider (like voicemail recording), integrations can enable teams to further optimize their VoIP system, building a stronger, more seamless customer experience in the process.
Gauge each provider’s support
Your VoIP provider’s role doesn’t end once an agreement has been signed. When you’re staking key business functions on it, you need assurance that you can rely on your VoIP system. Make sure you can receive support from live agents—not just a bot or a webpage.
If you want to learn more about the support Aircall offers, our team is happy to help.
How to get started with a VoIP Phone Service
Moving to a VoIP phone service can have a transformative impact on your business, but it can be hard to know where to start. Here are a few steps to put your best foot forward.
1. Choose between hosted or on-premise VoIP solutions
Onsite VoIP solutions have all the necessary hardware, software, and infrastructure located and operated within space owned by your business. That means it’s your organization’s responsibility to install and maintain the system.
In contrast, hosted or cloud-based VoIP solutions mean that all installation and maintenance is handled by the provider. Installation can be as simple as installing a mobile app.
For most businesses, the cost, flexibility, and reliability of a hosted solution make it the stronger choice. Learn more in our deep dive on on-premise versus cloud solutions.
2. Select a provider
As we discussed above, there are many factors to consider when choosing the right VoIP provider from your business needs to ongoing support. Take your time to weigh these elements before committing to a new solution.
3. Create a business phone number
An easy-to-remember number is an extension of your brand. Overly lengthy or complex numbers on the other hand, can put customers off.
With Aircall’s VoIP phone system, you can easily set up 800 numbers, toll-free numbers, or local numbers customers will be familiar with.
4. Purchase VoIP equipment/hardware
If you choose a hosted VoIP solution, most of the technological heavy lifting is done in the cloud, meaning there’s less hardware to worry about. However, there are still a few pieces of equipment you’ll want to consider, including:
- Analog telephone adapters: If you already have a bank of landline phones, these adapters can upgrade them to make VoIP calls.
- VoIP phones: While VoIP solutions like Aircall provide apps that can be installed on many devices, including PCs, smartphones, tablets, and more, you can also use dedicated phones. VoIP phones are physical phones that connect to your VoIP system through the internet.
- VoIP headsets: Like traditional headsets, these enable your sales teams or customer service agents to make calls hands-free.
5. Start using VoIP
With your hardware setup, it’s time to start making calls! Collecting data during this initial rollout can help you improve how you use your VoIP system. Aircall makes this learning process simple, showcasing stats like total numbers of calls, productivity, and how far you are from reaching key KPIs.
VoIP Features Aircall Provides
Aircall provides businesses with all the basic VoIP capabilities, plus so much more. We go above and beyond to deliver exceptional business phone services to broaden the scope of communication. That’s because we believe you should do more with VoIP than just make calls.
Here is the list of features Aircall provides for international calling and internal communications, but let’s break it down further.
What do you get on the Aircall VoIP phone system?
- Live call conferencing
- Area-based toll-free numbers and more than 100 international phone numbers
- Custom voicemail
- Business hours settings
- Advanced call routing
- Automated caller assistance via IVR
- Unlimited user extensions
- Virtual call center with consolidated contacts
- Call blocking and caller blacklisting
Collaboration and Productivity Features
Aircall enhances workplace collaboration and overall business productivity through the following features:
- Warm transfers and call assignments
- Shared contacts and call inboxes
- Real-time desktop notifications and alerts
- Follow-me feature with forward-to-mobile option
- Click to dial and PowerDialer
- Instant text messaging
- After-call work
Call Center Features
Aircall is equipped with advanced call management features designed to streamline call center operations, making it easier to control high call volumes. These features include:
- Call queuing
- Unlimited concurrent calls
- Parallel calling
- Call recording and playback
- Skill-based, group-based, and time-based call routing
- Queue callback
Call Analytics and Administration Features
Aircall analytics lets you measure various call performance indicator metrics such as call volume, wait time, hold time, and missed-call rate from a single dashboard. The platform also gives you administrative control over call management through these features:
- Active call monitoring
- Call whispering
- Live feed and real-time call log reporting
- Dedicated account management
Aircall seamlessly integrates with dozens of digital business solutions, including CRMs, eCommerce software, ERPs, help desk tools, data systems, and quality assurance systems. On top of that, it’s intuitively easy to set up and use—all thanks to the following capabilities:
- One-click setup
- Virtually unlimited webhooks and APIs for third-party integrations
- Insight cards to pull data from external apps
- Data imports and synchronization from supported apps and services
Still have questions? Here’s a list of frequently asked questions about VoIP phone systems and VoIP-hosted service providers:
Do I need a provider for VoIP?
Yes. You need a VoIP SIP provider to make and receive external calls. Without a SIP VoIP service provider, you can only make and receive internal calls over IP-PBX within the organization’s network. Plus, you need a VoIP host to unlock advanced VoIP capabilities.
Does VoIP require a service provider?
VoIP requires a service provider to route incoming and outgoing calls outside the internal business phone network. Also, cloud VoIP providers offer unlimited access to advanced business communication features.
What is a VoIP service provider?
A VoIP service provider is any B2B business that offers a cloud-hosted communications platform for enabling VoIP services. The service provider forms the link between internal and outbound business communications via the internet.
What makes a VoIP provider good?
Resourcefulness and commitment to customer satisfaction are the two main virtues that make a good VoIP provider. The right VoIP host must be able to provide all the necessary tools, products, and services needed to power a business phone system. The service provider must also guarantee 24/7 system uptime and high-quality VoIP services that truly bring value to an enterprise.
Are VoIP Phone Services reliable?
VoIP solutions are extremely reliable and trusted by thousands of businesses worldwide. And, as technology advances, the features and benefits available over landline phones services are increasing. Aircall itself has a consistent 99.99% uptime and has invested in market-leading technology, ensuring no dropped calls, and consistent quality.
What are VoIP’s network requirements?
VoIP relies on an internet connection to make calls, so you need to ensure you have the right bandwidth. Aircall requires a minimum connection of 64kbps (upstream and downstream) for each concurrent call.
However, to get the most value from your VoIP solution you’ll likely want to use software integrations, like your CRM. Requirements will vary by business depending on your tech stack, but for a seamless experience, you’ll likely want approximately 1Mbps per person concurrently using the VoIP system.
How to choose a VoIP provider?
Choosing a VoIP provider is a weighty business decision. So try not to rush into anything. Vet several hosted VoIP providers based on these criteria:
- Calling plans and pricing
- Service flexibility and customization
- Mobile compatibility
- Excellent support
- Voice and video output quality
- Third-party integration with existing business tools
In short, you want a VoIP provider that meets all your business communication needs and guarantees secure, robust, and dependable services. Aircall easily fits the bill and proudly checks all the attributes of a credible, trustworthy, and reliable VoIP provider.
This article was originally published on August 13, 2021, and was updated on May 16, 2022.